“You Get So Much Confidence from Working in Different Places”: Q&A with Nataliya Tomilovska
What is it like to be a registered nurse with Carecor? We asked Nataliya Tomilovska, an RN in Ontario who has worked with us for over 15 years, about her experiences.
Thanks for sharing your insights, Nataliya. How did you become an RN?
I’m originally from Ukraine. After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, there was an economic crisis in many of its former parts, including Ukraine. Most people with higher education lost their jobs, so the government offered a free reorientation program to change industries. I was an architect, but there was no work, so I went to nursing school and got my diploma in 1997.
But the crisis kept getting worse. In 1999, when my kids were 14 and 16, we decided to move away from Ukraine to give them a chance. We applied for immigration to Canada, and we arrived here in 2001.
To support my family, I needed to establish a career as soon as possible. I put my papers to the College of Nurses of Ontario and was accepted right away. I did a refresher program at McMaster University, and then I was hired at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. It offered a program for the intensive care unit (ICU). I liked it, so I went to George Brown College to finish the course. I became a full-time ICU RN in 2005.
You began working with Carecor in the mid-2000s. How did that begin?
My family went through a tough time. My husband had a health issue, so I was the only one earning money. A co-worker told me about Carecor. I went to the office and put in an application.
At first, I worked with the agency to get the extra hours, but I loved it so much. It offered self-management, independence and the opportunity to work at different hospitals. Working with Carecor works really well for me. I still work at Mount Sinai, but five years ago I reduced my hours to part-time. Mostly I work with Carecor, because it gives me flexibility—you want more, you work more; you want less, you work less. You can also choose your shifts. For example, I don’t want to work night shifts anymore, so I only choose day shifts.
As an ICU nurse, what do your responsibilities include?
It’s a very long list! In the ICU, we take care of very sick patients, who may be intubated, sedated or in an induced coma. My responsibility during each 12-hour shift is to watch the patient very closely, maintain their stability and try to wean them off life support. Life support is not forever—it’s meant for a short time. We provide intensive care to pull this person up and help them become less dependent on the medications that support the different systems of the body—cardiological, vascular, respiratory, urinary and so on.
Each shift begins with a report from the previous shift. Then you step into the patient’s room and do your own assessment and determine your goals for the day. You work in a team with doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists… When we have rounds, the whole team reviews everything that has to be done. We look at bloodwork results, medication doses, infusion rates, ventilator support, etc., and we review the outcome—how is the patient responding? Is there anything else we can do? Can we exclude anything? Then we develop a plan—what bloodwork and procedures, like an MRI, a CT scan or an ultrasound. If the patient needs a procedure, five or six of us travel with the patient and all the equipment to another floor to do it.
ICU nurses also work with patients’ families. For them, it’s emotional, it’s scary, it’s stressful—their loved one might look unrecognizable, with the tubes, electrodes and machines. Family members come and they don’t know what’s going on. It’s our job to explain, update and encourage, without giving false hope.
What else do you like about working for Carecor?
In Canada, especially in Toronto, every hospital has its own way of doing things—it’s not like in Ukraine, where there is one standard for the whole country. Working with Carecor opens your eyes to how things can be done differently. That’s why I like it—you don’t have a narrow vision, and you get so much confidence from working in different places. Hospitals have different patient populations, too. As an agency nurse, you learn how to talk to people of different cultures and learn about their traditions.
My daughter is also an ICU nurse. At first, she worked at one hospital, but she saw how I worked with Carecor, and she did the same. You feel so capable, working in different hospitals. With Carecor, you represent yourself and how you work. You have to be very responsible, very accurate, and you can’t lean on anyone else—it’s just you, your license and your patient. It feels like you have wings, you’re so confident.
Carecor also gives you a lot of trust. They also educate and see how you’re doing, how everyone treats you at work. They feel quite proud of us, and I feel it as well. And I really like the personal connection, when you’ve worked with Carecor for so many years. I feel supported.
What personality traits do you think are important for an RN?
You have to be confident, knowledgeable and professional. You have to be curious—there’s always something to learn and practise. If there’s something you don’t know, you have to dig and find the answer. You also have to be accurate and follow policies. Of course, you need to be patient. Sometimes, we have delirious patients or upset families, and if you don’t understand why they’re acting a certain way, nothing will work. You have to be patient and have a big heart.
Anything else you would like people to know?
People who work in ICUs are very dedicated and hardworking. It’s very tough work, but we know what we’re doing, and people should trust in that.
Learn more about becoming a Carecor RN.
Carecor Health Services provides a number of RN job opportunities in a variety of settings. Apply today!